A paper published recently in the journal Science has generated an enormous amount of media coverage. The paper’s matter-of-fact title, “Variation in Cancer Incidence Among Tissues Can Be Explained By the Number of Stem Cell Divisions,” doesn’t sound like something that would set the internet buzzing, but it sure did.
That’s because of how the paper was promoted and covered: “MOST CANCERS DUE TO BAD LUCK, NOT PREVENTABLE, STUDY FINDS” screamed one headline. But there’s a sharp disconnect between this paper’s findings and the hype surrounding it.
Here at AICR, we fund and analyze the research showing that a healthy weight, a healthy diet and regular physical activity could prevent hundreds of thousands of U.S. cancers every year. We’re concerned that the oversimplified coverage this study received will reinforce the widespread conviction that cancer “just happens” and cause Americans to throw up their hands and ignore the empowering, evidence-based message that everyday choices play an important protective role in risk for many of the most common cancers.
When looking at this paper, ask yourself three basic questions. Continue reading
There’s strong research now showing that being active can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, but how physical activity affects survivors of this cancer is not as clear. Now comes a study suggesting that being active — both before and after diagnosis —can lengthen survival for colorectal cancer survivors.
Not watching a lot of television — a common measure for sedentary living — was also found to improve survival. Survivors who were watching fewer than two hours a day of TV before diagnosis had a reduced risk of mortality compared to those watching five or more hours of TV a day.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last week.
For pre-diagnosis, study authors used data from approximately 3,800 survivors who were part of the large NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study study. In the mid 1990s, the participants were 50 to 71 years old. They answered questionnaires about how much TV they watched, their activity and other lifestyle habits. Those who had developed colorectal cancer were identified in 2006. Continue reading
A new long-term study that adds to the research on diet and breast cancer survival finds that women with certain types of breast tumors who reduced their dietary fat for years after diagnosis — and also lost weight — had lower death rates over the next 15 years than survivors on a standard diet.
The study was presented today at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and is not yet published in a journal.
It was funded in part by AICR and joins a growing body of research investigating how diet affects women diagnosed with breast cancer. In October, an AICR report on breast cancer survivorship in partnership with WCRF found some indication that fat may play a role in survival. The Continuous Update Project report found there was limited but consistent research suggesting that eating lower amounts of total fat and in particular, saturated fat, before a diagnosis of breast cancer linked to improved survival.
Weight loss may also play a role, as the low-fat group lost a a modest but significant amount of weight in this study. The CUP report found indications that being a healthy weight may lengthen survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer. But the report’s findings were not strong enough to make a specific recommendation.
Observational evidence relating to low-fat diets and breast cancer survival is mixed and previous research from another major randomized dietary study among breast cancer survivors – the WHEL study – found a lowfat diet did not affect mortality or recurrence.
The study presented today included approximately 2,400 women who were part of Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS), a study that first launched in 1987. All the women were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and they joined the study within six months of diagnosis. Continue reading